How many times have to read articles on how to travel by putting down papers or how to say 'screw you' to your boss and then you start traveling and that becomes your happily ever after? I have read it like gazillions of times. And don't get me wrong, I love my job. I chose what I wanted to do in life, and I had to work my ass off to become even remotely employable by the better employers. And there are bad times at work a lot of days, but is this escape route right? Is this idea of leaving the job and switch to a nomadic life going to solve my problems or give me purpose in life? I don't know really.
Thankfully, today we all have that choice. I have the chance to let go of my job and start afresh. A new career at a new place. But I am quite certain I don't want to do this every day. For some of us perhaps it is more of a way to escape the daily schedule of life. A schedule which to me is as important as being spontaneous. Schedule brings order to my life. And honestly, I do miss my bed after I have been traveling for more than a couple of weeks at a time.
Now the question is how to travel as much as I want? How to get those Instagram photos myself that I see other people taking and also how to get myself the social validity which is as important to people now as it was to 'get your children married' to the last generation. I have written down some of what I feel about it and what had I done to make it work till now
1. Make it a priority: I think the most important thing is to make it a priority in life. Fuck that gym membership at the start of the year, decide to take 4 trips to new places every year. And it need not be a new country every time! Just the places you have wanted to go which can fit into your budget.
Making it a priority also means skipping on the Sunday brunch with your friends sometimes, not buying those branded shoes you have been wanting for so long. Take a rain check on the bachelor party with pouring alcohol. This may sound harsh but then again, money is limited, so prioritize!
2. Club it with other travel plans: Plan to visit your long distance family? Office sends you off on work? Grandma wants to visit Char Dham? Lovely! Try and take advantage of it. Take your family out with you as well. If you have the flexibility to choose your travel dates at work, try to do them near a weekend and head to a nearby place. If the company policy doesn't allow weekends to be clubbed, you can ask if you can pay one way by yourself and take a couple of days more off. You will still get a one-way ticket free.
3. Book your tickets: If you are really serious about traveling then pick a place, the most feasible time and go ahead and book the ticket well in advance. There ain't no travel plans without a booked ticket. All those friends who have been overexcited about the Goa trip for the longest time aren't coming if their tickets are not booked (look at them with narrow eyes next time they talk about it). Other things like office work, your dog's birthday and mother-in-law puja timings will automatically fall into place.
4. Solo or Company? : So there has been this fad of solo traveling. And solo travel has been glorified like "the thing" and "must do in your bucket list". I have traveled solo, for many days, several times. I have traveled solo in the jungles and the arid dry lands and villages where nobody speaks your language and there isn't much glory in that. There is a certain amount of freedom that comes to it and you more space to yourself, but then its all for yourself. You cannot fall asleep on the bus or have to be very careful about what you eat to not get a bad stomach. Basically, you have to have your own back.
I would prefer solo over incompatible company. If I really want to go to a new place and I have exhausted options in terms of the company, I will go solo and hell I will enjoy it. But If I do get a company, and a good one, its people over myself. It also gives you a great time to bond with someone and you both generally end up really cherishing that time together. Also, it turns out usually cheaper to share hotels and meals.
5. Talk about it: If this is important to you, talk about it to everyone. Tell this to your boss, to your colleagues, your parents, to the neighbors, to the Tele-callers asking for credit card, to your Instagram followers and basically to everyone who doesn't give a shit. They will understand why you don't want to come to dinner, why are you saving your leaves, why do you spend so much on travel rather than on your wedding. Eventually, some will start sharing the places where you can plan to go, travel tips, maybe give you a travel voucher as a present on your birthday instead of beer mugs. If my boss asks me to cancel my trip for some office work, he/she gets a death stare and then eventually succumbs.
6. Do a side gig: If you are really tight on money or don't want to finance all trips completely, start looking for something to do on the side. Learn photography and sell your photograph, write about something you know online, find a way to monetize it, get some freelance work, rent out one of the spare rooms, sell your art on Etsy. There are a lot of options for that. You are also learning a new skill that way
7. Look for community travel options: Couchsurfing is very popular where you let a fellow traveler from another country sleep in your spare room or even in the couch of your living room (if they are okay) and they let you do the same. It a great community all over the world and have website to the purpose. Apart from that, a lot of people offer free guided tours in their cities on art or architecture or culture or a food crawl, just for the passion of it. You can offer to buy them a small present or a meal as a goodwill gesture but it saves you a ton of money in guides. There are a lot of websites offering a group tour to a place and it generally works out a lot cheaper than going alone
After all of it, you can decide if you want to go back to your job or want to take up travel completely. I think its always better to do a test run on the big plans before jumping on it completely. I found that I like both parts of this life. The one back home with a timetable at allows me to provide for my life comfortably injected with bouts of overenthusiastic and elaborate travel plans which just adds a lot of sweetness to life.